How much do we love the New York Times crossword puzzle? Let us count the ways … never mind, we can’t count that high. We can, however, count on it to continually challenge us with its sagacious clues and delight us when we discover the astute answers that fit just right.
While each puzzle offers something unique, with aha moments aplenty, some of their clues stand out as particularly brilliant and witty. Here are 15 of the best clues the NYT Crossword puzzle has provided over the years … along with their answers.
The 15 best NYT Crossword clues
1) Clue: Lead story in tomorrow’s newspaper.
Answer: CLINTON ELECTED
This epic clue ran on election day 1988. Was it divination? Nope, the answer BOB DOLE ELECTED would have also fit, so their bases were covered.
2) Clue: Looks pretty schlubby
A schlub is one thing, but schlubby oh-so-accurately describes how we feel when we can’t remember the last time we used shampoo that wasn’t dry.
3) Clue: Microsoft Chief
Aw, this was actually a marriage proposal for another Bill G.—Bill Gottlieb. Two other clues sealed the deal for him: “1729 Jonathan Swift pamphlet” (Answer: AMODESTPROPPOSAL) and “1992 Paula Abdul hit” (Answer: WILLYOUMARRYME). She said yes!
4) Clue: First lady’s residence
Sorry, Melania, this one goes way back.
5) Clue: Pat on the buns?
Why doesn’t anyone pass the oleo anymore?
6) Clue: Not in one’s cups?
7) Clue: One who accepts charges
8) Clue: Sentence structure?
9) Clue: Unexciting, low-paid work, in modern lingo
Mcjob is an actual entry in the Dictionary, first coined in Douglas Coupland’s novel Generation X. Order up!
10) Clue: Not in a million years!
The answer is certainly more emphatic.
11) Clue: Condition of being awesome, in modern slang
12) Clue: More than quirky
Calling someone’s behavior outre (derived from the French word outrer, which means “to push beyond bounds”) sounds a lot classier than calling them bizarre.
13) Clue: Main course?
While you’re probably thinking food, this is actually a play on the nautical term alee, which means “upon or toward the lee side of a vessel.” File that one away.
14) Clue: Pole vault units?
A zloty is a monetary unit in … you guessed it, Poland.
15) Clue: The __mightier …